As you all know, I am passionate about not only creating, but also helping to promote positive media content. I have a dear friend with a vision for such a project and she is making it happen! Nakia Burrise is an actress and content creator with a project called Class Dismissed. Your kids may know her as the Yellow Power Ranger and you may know her from shows like Hart of Dixie and The Middle. But I have had the privilege of getting to know her on a personal level over the past year and she has been a true confidante. To say she is full of valuable wisdom to share would only be touching the surface of who she is; I can say the same about this fun web series she has created. It is only the beginning! Class Dismissed has just completed its first season and now it is time to make preparations for season 2.
Here’s the logline (premise): Four teachers follow their own dreams while trying to mold the minds of their students… God help us all!
Of course, storytelling is never a path without cost – whether those costs are internal (mental and emotional energy) or external (monetary contribution) – and an ensemble web series is not something that can be accomplished alone. I took some time to talk with Nakia and ask her some questions about herself, her faith and her project. I think you will agree that she had some inspiring thoughts to share.
Lauren C. Snowden: Okay, Nakia! What is it that you would like people to know about you – both as a person and as an artist?
Nakia Burrise: First, I’d just like to thank you for this interview opportunity.
LCS: It is my absolute pleasure!
NB: It is a true blessing to have the platform to share a slice of my life with others. First, and foremost I am a Christian! As a Christian I feel there is a responsibility to make sure I am cognizant of the projects I am a part of and the roles I portray. That is why it was so important to me to create a family-friendly comedy series that the whole family can enjoy with clean humor. Many comedy shows today have crossed the line and no longer give us true family content without some sexual connotation, leaving fewer and fewer opportunities for families to sit back and enjoy a show together. That is my goal with Class Dismissed.
LCS: What is Class Dismissed really about, beyond the logline?
NB: Class Dismissed is really about four laughable characters from different walks of life, placed in the same environment without a common goal! Here’s a summary:
Class Dismissed is a hilarious new comedy web series centered on three high school friends, one nuisance and the unpredictable assistant principal: Liz, the sassy TV extra turned teacher’s aide; Anne, the easy going, free spirited first grade teacher who uses yoga and Tai Chi to teach her students Math and English; BJ, the loud-mouthed PE teacher/failed comedian; and Nancy, the nosy perfectionist teacher round out this crazy cast. After years apart BJ, Liz, and Anne find themselves reunited back at the same grade school…only this time they’re in charge. What happens in the teachers’ lounge stays in the teachers’ lounge! Liz, BJ, Anne, and Nancy are the center of each episode, encountering one hilarious circumstance after another. Hijinks, laughter, quick-witted banter, and lots of love make this show the can’t-miss web series.
LCS: Awesome! So, why this show? What inspired you create it?
NB: After leaving Power Rangers years ago, where I played Tanya the Yellow Power Ranger, I needed some financial stability so I began substitute teaching in the inner city of Los Angeles. Yes, this was a far leap from Hollywood. But, you have to do what you’ve got to do when you have a family. In 1999 I began substitute teaching while still pursuing my acting dreams. My experience in teaching led me to this show idea. There were so many hilarious, yet unbelievable, and heart wrenching experiences that I felt could only be told in a comedy series. My life experiences as an actress and substitute teacher are explored in my show. I believe Class Dismissed‘s characters are truly relatable in many aspects. I’m sure everyone has had one or more teachers who really didn’t teach; they were simply there for a pay check (BJ). Then there is always that one misguided student that likes to disrupt every class (Timmy). But, we often remember those teachers and assistants that spoke life into our souls and kept our heads held high in those moments of hopelessness (Anne and Liz). Future episodes will bring to heart issues of acceptance (ethnic, cultural), faith, and determination. I want my show to build, strengthen, and encourage others through the life experiences of my characters.
I often wondered why God didn’t bless me with another role on a television show right after Power Rangers. But, I realize that life’s struggles and experiences build one’s character, testimony, strength, and trust in Him. My life encounters, intersections, and divine appointments are all a part of my story…and that is what I share in Class Dismissed!
LCS: How do you produce a show like this? What does it involve? Do you have a big team or is this a love-labor crew?
NB: The Lord has been very gracious in allowing me the opportunity to employ a professional crew and actors who love what they do. The first season was 99% financed by my husband and me. I am the creator, executive producer, and co-writer with my dear friend, Thomas Lazare. Putting together a full series production involves many hours of planning, coordinating, and strategizing. I do not have a production team for my production company so I handle it all. I really love every aspect of being a producer and talent for Class Dismissed, especially because this is my baby. So it is all well worth it.
LCS: Oh, yes. I know that sentiment all too well! Can you talk a little bit about your passion for this Hollywood Industry? How do you see Class Dismissed fitting into (or not) the Hollywood paradigm? What are your ultimate goals for this charming webseries?
NB: I have always loved performing! When I was a kid I loved the Carol Burnett Show. I often emulated the characters that I saw on her show in front of my parents and brothers. They would get a kick out of it. It wasn’t until recently I learned about producing. Well, I had to in order to get my show out to the masses. I really enjoy it as well. Ultimately, I would love to have my show airing on a major network or global streaming provider like Netflix or HULU. Hollywood needs shows like mine. Wholesome family shows are becoming non-existent and there is still a huge audience desiring family shows. We want to meet their demand.
LCS: So, how can we support this project and your efforts to get it out to as many people as possible?
NB: Right now we have an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign for season 2 in progress. Our goal is to raise $25,000 to film 12 episodes. A simple $5.00 donation can go far. Here is our Indiegogo link
LCS: Where can we find the first season and get caught up?
NB: We have a website for our show: www.classdismissed.net. We also have a YouTube channel: http//www.youtube.com/c/sovereigntyentertainmentinc
LCS: Can you give us a teaser right here, right now?
NB: Of course! Here is the logline and a trailer for episode 4:
A new exchange teacher meets chaos at Duke Ellington… while Liz is up to her ears in grading science projects…for another teacher!
LCS: It looks great, and I’m so excited for what is coming! Thank you so much for taking the time out, Nakia. I will be looking for season 2!
NB: Thank you, for doing this!
About Nakia Burrise:
Growing up in Stockton, CA, Nakia began performing acrobatics by the age of five and later ventured into theater, musical theater, dancing, singing, and modeling. While attending Edison High School in Stockton, California, she auditioned for UCLA’s prestigious theater department. She was the only African American female freshman accepted into the theater department that year. By the time she was a junior at UCLA, her professional career had begun. She booked her first role as a series regular on Power Rangers, as Tanya Sloan, the yellow ranger; while simultaneously recording her first pop album with her singing group, Divine. She has since played an array of characters in such shows and movies as Angie Tribeca, Kevin From Work, Hart of Dixie (recurring), Star Trek Continues, New Girl, About a Boy, The Perfect Boyfriend, 90210, The Middle, Rules Of Engagement, Melissa and Joey, Bones, Samantha Who, Boston Legal, Nash Bridges, and Moesha.
In 2006, Nakia founded a non-profit corporation called “A Day in the Life”. The corporation’s mission is to reach inner city children by giving them the opportunity to explore various careers and life options through field trips, presentations, and field work; opportunities that are not readily accessible to many inner city youths.
Also in 2006, Nakia began producing her own projects. She co-wrote the comedy pilot, A Day in the Life with good friend Sonya Shepherd. The project had great reviews. In 2009, she wrote, produced and starred in Crazy Daze, comedy series. Crazy Daze, centered around Nikela and her dysfunctional group of friends as they navigate through the perils of life! The series received honorable mention in various television and film festivals. She is currently the creator, executive producer, and star in the comedy web series Class Dismissed (www.classdismissed.net)